In Brief

Ireland allows suspected female Isis recruit to return home

Leo Varadkar says Lisa Smith will be allowed back as it is the ‘compassionate’ thing to do

An Irish woman who travelled to Syria after being radicalised will be allowed to return home, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed.

Lisa Smith, who has a two-year-old child, was recently detained by US forces in northern Syria on suspicion of association with Islamic State.

The 37-year-old left for Syria in 2015, after stepping down from the Irish Defence Forces and converting to Islam, The Journal reports.

Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Varadkar said more information was still needed on Smith’s case, but that she and the child had the right to return to Ireland.

“We don’t believe that removing an Irish citizen’s citizenship from her or her family, rendering them stateless, would be either the right or compassionate thing to do,” he said.

The Taoiseach added that a full security assessment will take place before Smith is allowed back into the country, but that’s “it’s very possible” she was never a combatant.

His approach “will further highlight the controversy surrounding the decision by Sajid Javid, the UK home secretary, to strip Shamima Begum of her citizenship,” says The Guardian.

Varadkar has previously said he does not agree with making individuals stateless and that he would examine cases individually if an Islamic State fighter attempted to return to Ireland.

“I think it’s bad practice to revoke someone’s citizenship and render them stateless and leave them to be someone else’s problem,” he said last month.

Javid continues to face criticism over his handling of the situation that saw Begum, a 19-year-old former London schoolgirl, barred from returning home. Last week, it emerged that her three-week-old son, a British citizen, died in a Syrian refugee camp.

Yesterday, her mother Asma Begum wrote to the Home Office requesting that her British citizenship be reinstated as “an act of mercy” following the child’s death.

“You will appreciate there are immediate fears for Shamima’s health and safety, and the matter is urgent,” the letter said.

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